Guiding Light Olympia, No. 808
Free and Accepted Masons
Under the Grand Lodge
of the State of New York

The Box of Remembrance

A

 Brother asked about his Lodge’s “Box of Remembrance,” where it came from, and where the money goes. It’s an item on the Secretary’s annual return. Well, the box itself has quite an interesting history. I am informed that they were made by the orphans at the Home in Utica, and then distributed to the Lodges. I cannot find a reference as to how long ago that might have been done. But today, the 

money collected for the Box of Remembrance from the various Lodges is tallied on an annual basis by the Accounting Department at Grand Lodge, and a check is issued to the Trustees of the Masonic Hall & Home for the total amount collected. It is to be used for the benevolent purposes for which the Trustees have been charged. In 2011, that amounted to $2,050.94.

During the 18th Century, lodges had “poor boxes” mainly for the use of Masons who were unable to work through injury or old age, or for widows. The poor box was supplemented when new members joined and this amount varied upon lodge. Indeed, some lodges had different fees for operative and non-operative members. Some lodges such as No. 8 in Edinburgh, Scotland attempted to fund young apprentices through their trade, but this proved unsuccessful. Not satisfied with this, they gave non-monetary assistance in the form of a “Cart of Coals…one peck of meal per week during the winter Quarter,” and a “new Coat and…a pair of shoes and a shirt.” (1804 Minutes).

Prisoners of war were also the beneficiaries of Grand Lodge charity. The minutes of the Grand Lodge of Scotland present an extraordinary account of a meeting held on 10 October 1759, during which the Charity Committee, “taking into their Consideration the distressed Case of the French Prisoners presently in the Castle of Edinburgh,” voted ten guineas towards their relief “in purchasing Clothes and other necessaries for them But in the first place in supplying the necessities of Such as may be Brother Masons Amongst them.”

A group was appointed to “Enquire into and Inspect the Condition and Situation of these Prisoners Particularly Such of them as they shall find to be free Masons And to Report their Opinion as to their Number and Necessity with their first Convenience.”

External charity donations were unheard of in these days although the POWs were probably the closest to it.

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